After the OC Register reported on city managers’ compensation throughout the county, there has been a lot of debate about whether top city executives should be making as much as they do.

The report showed the highest paid city manager in Orange County to be Bruce Channing of Laguna Hills. Channing rakes in $460,809 in total compensation.

One would think that’s tough to beat. But the Los Angeles Times published a story this morning about a city’s top executive who takes home a figure that makes Channing’s compensation look modest by comparison.

According to the Times, Robert Rizzo, chief administrative officer of Bell, a small town in Los Angeles County, receives $787,637 a year.

From the Times’ article:

Experts in city government said they were amazed at the salaries the city pays, particularly Rizzo’s. “I have not heard anything close to that number in terms of compensation or salary,” said Dave Mora, West Coast regional director of the International City/County Management Assn., and a retired city manager.

By comparison, Manhattan Beach, a far wealthier city with about 7,000 fewer people, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year. The city manager of Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, earns $235,000 annually. Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T. Fujioka makes $338,458.

The salaries do not appear to violate any laws, said Dave Demerjian, head of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division. State law governs how much city council members can be paid, but not the amounts that council members decide to pay administrators, Demerjian said.

Voice of OC published a story on the city manager brain drain throughout Orange County, and one expert said city managers get paid as much as they do because they’re all-stars.

The city manager isn’t the only seemingly overpaid official in Bell either. The Times article continues:

In addition to the $787,637 salary of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Bell pays Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 a year, about 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck or Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and more than double New York City’s police commissioner. Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288 annually, more than most city managers.

And it isn’t just the city’s executives. The Times reported Bell’s City Council members are paid about $100,000 a year. Council members in a city the size of Bell, at only 37,000 people, typically make about $400 a month, the article said.

According to the Times, the Los Angeles County District Attorney is investigating the council member salaries.


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